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How Easy is "Easy"?

So, it is a lazy Saturday morning, and my elementary school age son asked me to play a game of baseball on the Wii. He even offered to “take it easy on me.” It is impossible to resist an offer like that, so, of course I played.

The first inning was scoreless. In the second inning, he put up 4 runs to my goose egg. After the 4th or 5th run in the third inning, I asked about his promise to go easy on me.

His response: “Not that easy.”

The final score for the three inning game was 10-0. In my defense, we are not allowed to throw breaking balls. He does anyway, and then just denies it with a smirk on his face even though the screen shows the pitch he threw. Take that out of the mix, and I probably only lose 5 or 6 to nothing.

The point that struck me, though, was about the perception of what “taking it easy” meant. Very clearly, we had different ideas about how to interpret that vague term.

When going through your Lean journey, you will likely encounter the same sort of situation. “We won’t stay too late” when working on a kaizen team might mean 6:00 to one person and 9:00 to another. “Reasonable” improvement targets might mean 10% to a manager and 5% to the “overworked” team.

Whenever possible, make sure to include numbers or other specifics in your plan. At some point, vague goals and instructions will create conflict. It is better to deal with that up front so people know what they are getting into.

I always like hearing from you. Does anyone have an example of a situation where vague terminology led to trouble? Let us know in the comments section below.


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